Torn Chicken, Sausage and Spinach Gratin

Leftover roast chicken was the inspiration for this gratin. I added it to faux sausage meatballs with a hint of shallot, lemon zest and nutmeg, all held in a Dijon mustard flavoured sauce made with chicken stock and milk. The gratinee topping ended up suitably crusty and golden, the perfect foil for the essentially soft food. The choice mouthfuls are the ones with sausage. I served it with carrots and a bumper bargain bunch of asparagus sprue quickly griddled to encourage a nutty flavour.

Serves 2, very generously

Prep: 25 min

Cook: 45 min

4/200g meaty pork sausages

1 tbsp vegetable oil

3 shallots

300g roast chicken

1 small lemon

1 tbsp flour

2 tsp Dijon mustard

150ml chicken stock

200ml milk

300g spinach


2 tbsp crème fraiche or thick cream, optional

6 tbsp fine white breadcrumbs

4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan or similar hard cheese

Boil a full kettle. Cut the sausages into 5 even-sized chunks. Heat the oil in a spacious frying or sauté pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the sausage pieces. Let them brown undisturbed for a couple of minutes to form a seal, then jiggle the pan to turn the pieces, adjusting the heat to evenly brown then cook through. Meanwhile, halve, peel and finely chop the spring onions. Tear the chicken into bite-size pieces, discard skin and sinew. Season with salt and pepper then microplane grate the lemon over the top. Stir the shallot into the crusty sausage, stirring and adjusting the heat so it softens rather browns. Sift the flour over the top, stirring until disappeared, then stir in the mustard followed by the chicken stock. Simmer, stirring, for a few minutes, season with salt and pepper and add the milk, stirring as if begins to thicken but remains sloppy. Establish a steady simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Shred the spinach and drop into a pan of salted, boiling water from the kettle. Boil 2 minutes, drain, pressing to extract maximum water. Season lavishly with freshly grated nutmeg. Fold first the chicken and then the spinach into the pan. Turn off the heat and spoon into a gratin dish to cool. If liked, I do, spoon the crème fraiche over the top. Mix crumbs and cheese together. When the gratin is cool, sprinkle the mix over the top. Bake now or later in a hot oven (200C/gas mark 6) for 30 minutes, checking after 20, until crusty and golden.